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Joanne West is an engineer at British Airways (BA) Maintenance next to Cardiff airport. When she decided she wanted to study for a new license she contacted the Unite WULF project to ask for financial support.

Having worked for British Airways for 19 years, Joanne West has to undertake training to keep her skills up to date. But there is no free or company training school for BA in the local area.  There is also no funding from the company for training. This means that most people are self-taught and self-funded.

The qualification to work as an aircraft engineer is split into two different disciplines or 'licences'. The first licence (called ‘B1’) is needed for engineers to work on the engines and airframe of the plane.  The second licence (called ‘B2’) enables engineers to work on the electronic systems within the plane.  Joanne got the first licence qualification many years ago.

A few months ago, she decided to pick up her training again to get the qualifications to get the second licence. When she decided to start her studies again, she reached out to the Unite Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) project to find out what support was available.

WULF funding makes it easy to continue studying

The Unite WULF project offers bursaries towards training costs to help to improve work skills and job prospects.  Through the Unite WULF project, Joanne was able to secure a bursary for the training course.  For Joanne, the funding gave her an incentive to pick her training up again. 

“The Unite WULF coordinators were very supportive…It (the bursary) gave me the kickstart that I needed…it makes it really easy to continue with study. I have no excuse to not start the studying. I had nothing holding me back…”

Joanne West, BA engineer

Joanne has now obtained some of the qualifications required for the licence and she continues to study for the ones that are remaining.  When she completes the qualification, she will be one of very few workers that has achieved both qualifications. This will improve her employability and provide her with opportunities to progress as an engineer on site.

Removing financial obstacles to learning

Joanne thinks that the bursary is an important tool for engineers who are just starting out in their training at BA.  It is particularly important for workers on lower wages.  The cost of studying is quite substantial. The bursary helps to remove any financial obstacles to training. This enables people to improve their qualifications and prospects and go on to move up salary bands.

Joanne says, “I know that a lot of other people would feel that way to have that bursary. It kickstarts the learning – and you get into a routine once you have that…The training is plugging the gap and removing the obstacles.  We are all self-funded, this is why bursaries are important to people.”

Now Joanne is working to encourage others to apply for the bursary and continue with their training.  “Our next step is to get the applications flowing to give others the chance of having the bursary.”

For West, the bursary has given her a renewed drive to develop her skills at work.  “It has given me the incentive this year to keep going and to try and get my other license…I am really grateful for the fund for this reason.  In the future I think I will continue to study.”

How to get training support from WULF

Need to complete some training to advance in your career? Or want to get back into learning for the satisfaction and mental health benefits it can offer?  Take a look at the WULF projects available through the unions that work in your workplace.

If you‘re not a member of a union you can still access support via WULF.

Find out which union(s) work in your sector by using our union finder tool